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A Deadly Re-Emergence

Wellbee was a common poster advertising the newly created Polio vaccine in the 1960's.

Wellbee was a common poster advertising the newly created Polio vaccine in the 1960's.

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Before vaccines, there was one virus in the US that Americans truly feared. This virus was highly contagious, it was deadly, and it caused paralysis. With the introduction of vaccines, the United States was able to get rid of this terrible virus — until now. This virus was poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio.

Polio was once one of the most feared viral infections of the United States. During the 1950s, outbreaks caused over 15,000 cases of paralysis annually in the United States alone. A vaccine introduced in 1955, the trivalent inactivated polio-virus vaccine (IPV), along with the 1963 trivalent oral polio-virus vaccine (OPV) dropped the cases of polio to under 100 diagnoses in the ‘60s and under 10 by the ‘70s. Since then, Polio had been eradicated in the United States with the exception of traveler cases.

By October 25th 2018, the CDC found 155 potential patients carrying a polio-like virus. The week prior, there were only 127 potential cases. This polio-like virus is known as Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM. According to a CDC report, between August 2014 and September 2018, there have been 386 cases of AFM confirmed within the US.

AFM is a virus that attacks the nervous system that typically attacks grey matter and the spinal cord. Common symptoms include muscle weakness, slowed reflexes, facial droop or weakness, difficulty swallowing, and slurred speech. In rare occasions, the virus can present with tingling or numbness in arms or legs and the inability to pass urine.

Currently, the AFM outbreak is present in 22 of the 50 states. States currently infected with AFM are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The CDC suggests keeping up on polio vaccinations and wearing mosquito repellents to avoid West Nile virus to prevent AFM. Although there is no confirmed cause to AFM, there is believed to be a link between these two viruses and the AFM virus.

AFM might not be as prevalent as the polio outbreaks of the past, but it’s just as dangerous. The CDC does not know how it spreads, but it begins as a contagious infection that quickly attacks the nervous system. This dangerous infection is easily preventable with vaccines. The best option?

Get your shots, kids.

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About the Writer
Becca Clark, Writer

Hi, I'm Becca. I was a previous member of Decathlon last year, I am one of the founding members of the MHS Creative Writing Club, and I write for Breaking...

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A Deadly Re-Emergence